Friday, July 31, 2009

Faith is knowing that you don't take this journey alone

Yep. I’m in the Old Testament again. Something about it being in the beginning I guess. Another round of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob . . .

Today, I was reading about Abraham’s question to find a suitable wife for his son. The scripture seems to indicate that there wasn’t any real hurry for Isaac to marry, until his mother Sarah dies - then suddenly Abraham realizes that time is a-wastin’, and he better get that boy married off if he has any hope of grandchildren. But who to choose? Not a Canaanite woman for Isaac. So he calls in his faithful servant and sends him on an impossible mission: bring back the perfect woman. Understandably, the servant is skeptical - perfect woman? And what if I can’t even find your family? What if I find Ms. Perfect but she won’t come with me? What then? What if the camel has a flat in the desert?

Abraham makes a statement both simple and profound at once. “The Lord with whom I have walked, will send his angel with you and make your journey a success, so that you can get a wife for my son from my own clan and from my father’s family. Then, when you go to my clan, you will be released from my oath even if they refuse to give her to you - you will be released from my oath.” Abraham essentially tells his servant, “Have faith, you aren’t going alone - there’s an angel that’s going to help you out with the negotiations. And you’re still worried that she won’t agree to travel with you? Fine. You just go. That’s all. I have enough faith that God has already taken care of the problem. Just go. And it will be enough.”

The father of the faithful is best seen in this light - trusting calmly in the promise. How I wish my faith was to that level. It seems that most of the time I want to assist the Lord in bringing about His promises, and then I get frustrated when I can’t. To quote Priscilla McGruder, “Today I
face a mountain that alone I cannot climb.” I’m 34 and have lived for God my whole life. I should know better. I should have great faith. I should trust. And yet - I still want overall approval of the plan before I sign off on it . . .

Today, my prayer is that my faith will be built. That I will trust that God has already taken care of the problem before me. That he has sent his angels along to prepare my way, just because I asked Him too. My responsibility? To go and do the work set before me, trusting that He will do the rest.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Lord given, and He taketh away . . . blessed be

What if God gave you everything you ever wanted, and then said, “Give it back”? Sounds cruel, right? Like some kind of twisted game small children play? Back in a less politically correct age, you would have been subjected to a perjorative term like “Indian-giver.” Even as a mature believer - one who counts her servitude as a blessing - I occasionally look at the circumstances of life - simple (a fight with a family member) or complex (the death of a young person) and come to the place of questioning? What sort of God gives and then requires the return of the gift?

Sometimes I wonder if it isn’t in the hands of the receiver. Abraham spent 100 years trusting God for everything. His only hope was God - if God did not deliver an heir, the promise would be without hope! And perhaps God began to wonder, years after Isaac had been given, years after watching the light in Abraham’s eyes each time he viewed his son, years after the promise was re-born in Abraham’s heart in a million different ways - perhaps then God began to wonder . . . does Abraham still trust me, or has he given his heart, his faith, away? Has he transferred his belief to the gift, rather than the giver? So God tested Abraham. Abraham passed.

Other Biblical figures did not pass every test. Moses impatiently struck the rock. Solomon worshiped his wisdom to distraction. Peter got so caught up in rules about what to eat that God had to give him a vision to get him back on track. What does it all mean? Why does God put this . . . stuff . . . in our way, knowing the whole time that it will “trip us up”. Why does he place our very weaknesses right before us as a challenge? Why bother to give us anything? Surely He who is all knowing already knows if we will pass the test or not. So, if He knows, what's the point?

Complicated question. Simple answer. Because He wants to check us. Because allowing us to have truly free will requires that He let go of the reins of control. He lets us mess up. He frees us to fail, if that's what we want. Why? To make sure that our priorities are exactly where they should be. The day that we begin to worship the gift more than the giver is the day that the spirit of Lot has overtaken us all. Distracted by the blessings, we will be unable to worship in spirit, and in truth. We will be imprisoned by the very thing meant to bless us.

I love what God has given me - my friends, my family, my home, the second chance at a life I thought I had forfeited. But if He should require it of me today, I hope that I could stand and give Him praise knowing that He who gave will not require more than I can bear. That He loves me, His child, and the gift more than I can imagine. While I may never fully understand why God chooses to give and take as He does, I know this: I love the Giver more than anything else. Anything. It is enough.